Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Memory Lane

Brandon will be graduating next June and with that comes all the same activities and planning as I did just two years ago with Courtney. When Mike and I were planning our family, we desperately wanted to have our children close together. Our thought process was that by being so close in age, they would be on the same playing field, hopefully sharing the same interests and that they would grow up to be the best of friends. We prayed that no matter what, they would always be there for each other.
At this age, it sure doesn't seem to be the case. There will be occasional and very rare moments when the two of them will be talking, maybe even laughing together, and I wish Mike was aware so he could see that our wish may indeed have come true. When they argue and fight, a part of me hopes that Mike doesn't realize what is happening.
When Mike and I were planning our life, we didn't realize just how hectic things would be as our children, so close in age, got older. This year, Courtney is helping me with Brandon's yearbook dedication page. We spent one evening looking through boxes and boxes of pictures, looking for the photos we thought would epitomize Brandon. In searching through these memories, I was once again confronted with the past, and all that we have lost. Not just me and the kids, but Mike - and all that he has never fully experienced. I am so caught up in trying to stay afloat in the present, dealing with our daily struggles, that quite often I forget the life we used to have: the way Mike used to be, the relationship we had before we got married, his relationship with Courtney and Brandon, our dreams and hopes for the future.
I can be somewhat thankful that I am so busy each and every minute of the day, that I don't have the time to re-visit those memories. At any given moment, when I see a dad with his chidren, I tear up. I remember those days as though they were yesterday, and mourn for the life Mike never had to share with his children. Alzheimer's robs it's victims of those memories, those cherished snapshots of time and events that make up our past and create the person we are.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


A time of year to give thanks for all that you have.

I feel like it's Thanksgiving everyday. A few months back, I was struggling with so much and became angry, resentful and jealous. Strangely enough, it was a kidney stone that made me realize how much can be taken away in the blink of an eye. I was in such severe pain and I was so scared because I did not know what was happening. I immediately thought of the worst and I'm sure that fear made my experience even more difficult. After I was told it was "only a kidney stone", I was so relieved. When I think about what could have been......
Yes, Mike has been suffering with Alzheimer's Disease for 9 1/2 years now. When he was diagnosed, I never expected him to be with us for so long. I look back and think of all we have been through with him, all that he has suffered, and I am extremely THANKFUL that we still have Mike with us at home where he belongs, happy and healthy.
I am THANKFUL that me, my children and family are all basically healthy. Without our health, where would we be?
Two and a half years ago, my salary was cut drastically. This sent me into a downward spiral I have not been able to dig myself out of. I lost my health insurance because I could no longer afford the monthly premiums and along the way I have lost my car insurance, had my phone and TV shut off (they have all been re-connected...until next time). Yet in this economy, I am THANKFUL that I at least have a job. Each day I can wake up and go to work and know I will be getting a paycheck at the end of the week (no matter how small it may be :). There are many people out there not as fortunate as I am.
My car in almost 10 years old and we only have one (even though now there are 3 of us driving). I am EXTREMELY THANKFUL that I have a car and that it has been reliable and good to us. Each day it rains, snows or it's cold/windy, I look at the people in the neighborhood waiting for buses and I thank God I have my own transportation.
I am so THANKFUL that we have so many good friends, neighbors and organizations in our life that have been there for us these 9 1/2 years. We would have never survived this long without all their help and support. We also would have: no heat, no ramp or no bedroom for Mike and I - without the continued love and support from Mike's old co-workers. Each and every year they have never failed to deliver a turkey to us for Thanksgiving - that's 9 years! The fact that they have not forgotten us, for that we are THANKFUL.
I can go on and on, but I think I made my point. Even though we all have struggles and difficulties in life, we should still remain THANKFUL. Things can always be worse, for no matter how bad we have it, there will ALWAYS be someone out there suffering more than we are. I lost that mindset for a while, and I was miserable. Now each and every day I thank God for all that we have and all that he has given us.

Friday, November 12, 2010

AFA Telethon taping

Last week we were invited to the taping of The Alzheimer's Foundation of America telethon which will be aired DECEMBER 4, 2010 on NBC.

The kids and I were thrilled at the opportunity to be witness to such a ground breaking event which took place Wed. Nov. 10th. This is the FIRST TIME in the 25 years that I have been dealing with the disease that such an event has taken place on National Television. We were honored to be asked - and as an added bonus, star struck with the celebrities that were present. Beside those at the actual event, there were very famous and powerful people who pre-taped messages to be played during the show about how and where to donate. Needless to say Courtney and I almost fell off the floor when our idol ELLEN DEGENERES, did her part. She has so many followers and she has the ability to reach so many people. I was beyond happy that she had agreed to take part in the telethon for this very important cause.
As you will see WHEN you watch the telethon, the Foundation focuses on the CARE for individuals and their caregivers. While research is imperative, organizations such as the Alzheimer's Association raises money for that. As Hector Elizondo so eloquently said, "while there's currently no CURE for this disease, we have to do all we can to help CARE for those with the disease". That was the main objective for this event. They touch on: young onset, day programs, the explanation of the disease, their "Quilt to Remember", and even how to get young children to understand the disease.

I was so honored that they chose Mike's mom's picture and Mike's picture as part of a tribute to those affected by the disease.

The taping was a great experience and as much as I would love for this to be an annual event, I pray that it will not be necessary.